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DHR To Increase HIV Testing Among African-Americans

Armen Hareyan's picture

Georgia Department of Health received more than $1.9 million from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to increase testing and early diagnosis of HIV among African-Americans. Of Georgia's 2005 new HIV cases, African-Americans accounted for 79 percent of the diagnoses. This is the first time the CDC has given funds to the Division Public Health specifically to increase HIV testing among populations disproportionately affected by the disease.

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"We extend our gratitude to the CDC for the funds they have awarded us to increase HIV testing among African Americans," said Stuart Brown, M.D., director of the Division of Public Health. "With the funds, we have a great opportunity to educate the public about the importance of HIV testing for early detection, which will hopefully minimize transmission and help those who are infected manage the disease."

As part of their efforts to increase progress in reducing HIV among African Americans, the CDC is targeting areas nationwide where African Americans have been severely impacted by the disease. Nationally, African-Americans account for approximately half of the more than 1 million Americans currently living with HIV. In Georgia, more than 1,200 persons were newly diagnosed with HIV in 2005. Of those new cases, African-Americans accounted for 79 percent of HIV diagnoses.

It is estimated that a quarter of the individuals living with HIV throughout the country are unaware they are infected with the disease. Therefore, early testing and diagnosis is pivotal to help decrease the number of new HIV cases. With the CDC's awards, the Division of Public Health will be able to increase their testing to identify undiagnosed persons. HIV testing and counseling will be available primarily in clinical settings such as emergency rooms and local health departments. Under the new program, the Division of Public Health will also be integrating HIV testing efforts with screening and prevention activities for sexually transmitted diseases and other infections.